Tag Archives: Boston

Socioeconomic Costs of Gentrification


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Roaming around the streets of Boston is always fun, especially for a PR pro like myself.  There’s so many attractions coming and going around the neighborhoods.  An organic vegetarian restaurant, a seasonal beer garden closed until the summer, and even concert halls are a few of many entertaining options within the city.  Even though its smaller (both in density and population size) than New York City, Boston still rings in more people every year.  You can’t get bored in this city because there’s another amazing event happening right around the corner.

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Image result for Boston Tourism

Boston’s trendy entertainment options are driving more people into the area (both tourists and those that are looking to move there).  Much of the revenue collected has been going towards increasing the overall atmosphere of the city.  While Boston has been gaining more popularity, that popularity comes with hefty costs.

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Image result for Boston Apartments

An apartment within the better neighborhoods go for over $1,000 a month, with some options soaring over $3,000.  The restaurants and bars around your area may be amazing, but they also aren’t cheap (no joke, I’ve almost spent $40 in most places!).  Your destined neighborhood may seem wonderful, but these opportunities are becoming harder to reach.

Image result for Boston High rise

Image result for Boston High rise

Image result for Boston High rise

That little analogy I expressed earlier is a clear sign of gentrification in Boston.  Gentrification involves renovating deteriorating urban neighborhoods by bringing in more affluent residents.  It’s one of the most controversial practices of urban planning that has been going on for decades (since the early 60s and really picked up around the 1970s!).  I mentioned the topic of gentrification in my post involving Denver during the latest episode of Weediquette (which you can read about here) and this post will dig deeper into this discussion.

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Image result for Gentrification

Gentrification involves bringing in the affluent audiences into the city, those that would provide more profits in order to increase revenue.  But it’s not just the economic aspect that appeals employees to set out this provocative PR tactic – These affluent audiences would flourish Boston’s reputation as a city.  Bringing in this wave of audiences would help reduce vacancy rates, increase the social mix, decrease the crime rate, and also stabilize some of the declining areas.

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But the hidden problem lies in what’s being taken out – the middle/lower middle-class audiences.  Gentrified neighborhoods mean some audiences are left out of the mix.  This is NOT good and it is creating a VIP-access type scenario where only those at the higher rung of the economic ladder will get the most out of the city.  It’s leaving out room for people looking to explore attractions in cities like Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle, and many others.

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Generating more buzz for the city is wonderful and all, but it’s squeezing out some audiences from the experience.  Every audience, especially those within the working and middle class, should be able to have that opportunity they yearned for within the city.  Whether it’s the gay couple looking to move out to San Francisco or the artist looking to make their place in New York City, every member of a specific audience is searching to make their place in the country.

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Isn’t that part of our American values? Being part of this amazing ‘land of opportunity’ where we have the option to start our own lives?  This is to set out for your OWN life, not some traditionalistic idea within the social norm.  Some scary PR tactic like gentrification shouldn’t prevent us from providing that option to all of our audiences.

Image result for boston affordable housing

Image result for boston affordable housing

While gentrification may have already happened (and still is in many areas!), we can establish affordable housing units in our flourishing cities.  Affordable housing would only ring in more diverse audiences and raise its reputation even further.  This idea of ‘affordable housing’ stands for a beneficial idea where everyone is allowed to pursue their personal goals.  Cities like Boston or Los Angeles shouldn’t become exclusive VIP access type cities that caters only to those of the Economic High Club (which sounds less entertaining than the Mile-High Club!).

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Our cities should be open to all economic backgrounds, not generate into exclusive clubs.  These tactics could make and break the representation of our ever-growing cities.

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MICE 2017!


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Happy Monday everyone!  Hope you all had another fantastic weekend.  Things have been VERY spooky around here since Halloween is coming up (just EIGHT more days!).  They just kicked things up a notch during the last episode of AHS, which I will discuss later this week!

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For now, I’ve been still reeling in from another fun Sunday.  Yesterday I attended the Massachusetts Comics Expo (MICE) over in Cambridge at Lesly University.  I attended the event last year (which you can read about that past adventure here) and wanted to go back again because it was so much fun.

Upon entering the building, I received my sticker and headed up to the 2nd floor.  I roamed around the crowded hallways, glancing around at the vast amount of amazing artwork around me.  Comics, posters, flyers, stickers, and even the business cards looked absolutely outstanding.  As an artist within the writer community, I was in awe of the magnificent comics the comic book artists made.  The graphics as well as the storylines themselves really captured my attention to some of the interesting comics.

Here were some of the highlights from yesterday’s MICE event:

The Legend of Gay Zelda

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One interesting thing I noticed around the comic event was the LGBTQ theme popping up around some story lines.  Many comic series featured characters that were gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, non-binary, and so on.  There were comics that featured heterosexual characters, but it was the diverse comics that really turned my head.  A real head-turner for me was this comic called The Legend of Gay Zelda.

The Legend of Gay Zelda is an adorable fanzine featuring love between two gay video game characters.  It presents an intriguing parallel universe within The Legend of Zelda universe.  I’m not the biggest fan of The Legend of Zelda, but I loved the overall concept of a gay Zelda series.  There are no limits when it comes to comics (especially independent comics), so this was one of many series that pushed the boundaries of comic book storytelling.

The Unquotable Trump

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Another interesting comic I spotted was one called The Unquotable Trump by Robert Sikoryak.  I’ve heard plenty of jokes about President Donald Trump since he was elected and this comic was chock full of them.  Sikoryak takes traditional comic styles from various pop culture references and adds Donald Trump into the mix.  Comic series like Batman, Archie and Friends, Ritchie Rich, and Garfield were some of many famous references played out in the book.  No reference was safe from the invasion of Donald Trump!

Purchased Comic – What Happened to John Crowley?

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This year I picked up some really interesting comics I found.  While heading through this corner table, I spotted an interesting series titled What Happened to John Crowley?.  I talked with author Ian Richardson not just about the comic, but about video games like The Witness and how amazingly challenging it was.  He discussed with me about the comic is a non-linear crime story about what happened to John Crowley in Rut’s Hollow.

I went home later to read through the series.  It was dark, shocking, confusing, and even downright disturbing.  This non-linear story about John Crowley kept me glued in for more.  Reading through the letters (which seemed like clues in the story) were the only way of understanding John Crowley’s demise.

It was definitely a shocking and weird story.  Even though I left the story confused as ever, I really enjoyed the graphic content within the storyline.  It was a dark and twisted tale that had me really wanting to understand who this John Crowley guy was.

Props to Ian Richardson for this fantastic story!

Purchased Comic – The Comic Book Story of Video Games

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My other purchased comic over at MICE was called The Comic Book Story of Video Games by Jonathan Hennessey and Jack McGowan.  I got to speak with Jack McGowan, who was really passionate about the video game industry.  He loves the industry so much that he compiled lots of research into pinpointing its true history.

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While I haven’t read the comic yet, I will definitely read it during my train rides to Boston.  I truly love video games and I will definitely enjoy reading through this animated story about its rooted history.

That’s it for my awesome adventure over at MICE.  It was certainly a lot of fun and I really enjoy seeing another artists’ work.  Here’s to the art community creating a better world each day!

Colorful Craft Cider Breweries!


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Happy October everyone!  The leaves are changing and the weather has gotten a lot cooler over the past few weeks.  This is the season that brings in major changes within the next few months.  Summer may be gone for a while, but now it’s time for the many holidays that are coming up.

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One of my favorite things I look forward to in the fall are pumpkin-spiced beers coated with the caramel-sugar rim.  I wrote about this intriguing drink combo last year (which can be found here) and I still order this drink every once in a while.  Other than the caramel-sugar coated rim, I have been really into hard ciders these days.

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Image result for Cider

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I’ve drank apple cider in the fall as a kid and these hard ciders certainly don’t disappoint.  Drinking cider takes me back to my childhood days in Ipswich when I would take trips to Russell Orchards with my family.  The warm, sweet cider tasted great to wash down those sugary apple cider mini donuts.  It’s these little things that made fall such an amazing season.  Even though I’ve grown up and moved out of Ipswich, I still crave for the taste of cider every now and then.

Image result for Hard Cider

Image result for Hard Cider

Hard cider is like the grown-up version of the cider I drank at Russell Orchards, only this time the cider is mixed with alcohol.  Believe it or not, there’s actually some cider breweries around Massachusetts.  Most of them are within the Boston area and one is right in the North Shore.  Here are a few notable cider breweries to check out in the fall:

Downeast Cider House

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The first cider brewery on the list is Downeast Cider House.  Located in East Boston, Downeast Cider House features various ciders with different fruit blend.  One featured cider to check out is the Pumpkin Blend, which features hints of chai tea and freshly-pressed pumpkin.  Downeast Cider House is a 12-minute stroll from the Maverick Station of the T.  Stop by Downeast Cider House Thursdays-Sundays if you’re ever looking for something around East Boston!

          Prospect Ciderworks

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Located in South End of Boston is Prospect Ciderworks.  While Prospect Ciderworks isn’t open to the public, they do offer private tours on a case-by-case basis.  One notable cider to check out is Paradise, a cider featuring orange peel and grains of paradise.  This cider is steeped with grains of paradise and orange peel after being fermented with a Belgian Ale yeast.  Be sure to look out for Prospect Ciderworks if you’re ever in the South End area of Boston.

          Far From The Tree Craft Hard Cider

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Image result for Far From The Tree Cider Apple of my Chai

Image result for Far From The Tree Cider Apple of my Chai

One cider brewery that is farther north of Boston is Far From The Tree Cider in Salem.  Far From The Tree Cider is just less than one mile from the Salem Train Station.  Apple of My Chai (black-tea cider with clove, cinnamon, cardamom, and an orange peel) and Ectoplasm (green bell pepper, jalapeno, and kiwi) are some notable choices to pick from.  Other than their flavorful ciders, Far From The Tree features weekly events as well.  Some of their daily events include Trivia Night w/ Captain Crew on every 1st/3rd Monday and even Video Game Night every Tuesday.  Swing by Far From The Tree Cider if you’re ever in Salem searching for a good cider and some fun!

          Bantam Cider Company

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Residing within the Boston neighborhood of Somerville is Bantam Cider Company.  Bantam Cider Company is open Friday-Sunday for tours and can be found within Somerville’s Union Square area.  One of their notable ciders include Rojo, a cider aged with sour cherries and black peppercorns to create a spicy fruity aroma.  Stop by Bantam Cider Company if you’re ever strolling through Somerville one day.

          Artifact Cider Project

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Image result for Artifact Cider Project

Just west of Downeast Cider House is Artifact Cider Project in Everett.  Artifact Cider Project features six ciders to choose from that feature some funky designs.  One cider that got my attention was Perception Shift (both for its intriguing art work and the cider flavor itself).  Perception Shift blends American and European cidermaking traditions to create this bittersweet cider flavor.  You can find Artifact Cider Project on tap in various restaurants/bars in Boston.  Check out the Artifact Cider Project brewery in Everett.

That’s the list of cider breweries within the Boston area.  Those leaves aren’t falling any slower, so now’s the time to check out one of five cider breweries.  Whether you’re craving a cider with a summer feel or grabbing a cider while playing video games, there’s a cider brewery for everyone.

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Check out these amazing cider breweries in the Boston area.  Happy Fall!

Get Your Craft on at DIY Bar!


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Image result for Boston Bars

One of the things I love most about Boston is the eclectic choices of bars around the city.  Some bars specialize on craft beers (my personal favorite kind of brews!) while others shift their focus towards a product strategy.  Either way, there’s always some random spot I haven’t drank at that I have to check out.

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With so many choices to choose from, the intriguing part is discovering what makes them tick.  Just a few nights ago I went into this awesome place called Four Winds Bar & Grill that had that neighborhood feel where the people would remember you.  Not only was the food amazing, but the bartenders were so friendly that I stayed a few more minutes after finishing my meal!  On a random note, I’ll post up a list of neighborhood bars around Boston if I find more.

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Image result for Boston Bars

Back to my point, cities like Boston or Salem have those unique restaurant or bars that customers remember.  Whether it is simply rotating drinks or having live music, there’s always some unique selling point that will keep your customers staying longer.  Audiences stay longer when there is an interesting theme within the bar.  Boston sure has some vivid bar themes, but a Portland, Oregon has a bar with a DIY theme.

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Nestled on 3522 North Vancouver Avenue is DIY Bar, a joint specializing in beers and craft projects.  DIY Bar opened in Spring 2017, a place where customers can choose from a variety of craft projects to work on while sipping on their favorite wine, cider, or beer.  Projects range from easy to hard and take about 1-3 hours to complete.  It’s the perfect joint to get your craft on while sipping on your favorite brew!

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DIY Bar definitely has a great unique selling point here!  The USP of providing fun crafts to do will pull audiences into the establishment, having them stay longer and drink more.  Other than the drinks, it’s a great craft place to socialize with other patrons about their work as well.  While the price may be high ($39 for each project!), it would definitely be worth checking out.

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We need more places like DIY Bar around this country.  What makes it so special is the USP of doing craft projects while drinking with your friends.  This is definitely a place I could see myself going with my friends in the future.

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This sounds like an awesome place!  I’ve been to bars that had arcade games (BitBar Salem and A4cade in Cambridge!), but this idea sounds really captivating.  Not sure if something like this is around Boston, but this would definitely fit well with the city.  As a matter of fact, Boston should think about establishing a bar with a writing theme to it (lots of famous writers started in Boston, FYI!).

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Image result for Unique Bar

There’s always some grand idea that’s part of the USP for a bar.  Sometimes you have to think outside the box to pinpoint your main theme for your audiences.  A bar or restaurant isn’t nothing without some USP that would distinguish itself from the competition (otherwise it’ll become another monotonous chain restaurant!).

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With that, I’m so grateful to stumble upon this awesome gold I dug up in the internet.  DIY Bar is definitely something to check out if you enjoy completing DIY craft projects.

#MACannabisAdvertisingProposalsFAIL


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A major bill has been floating around MA since last week that showcases some interesting changes to the cannabis laws.  One surprising notice was that recreational cannabis products could be taxed as high as 28%, which is twice as high as the original format at 12%.  That number may be high, but there’s even some more shocking changes that must be discussed.

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Advertising could be SEVERLY limited under the proposed changes.  The new proposal would limit the use of radio, billboards, TV, print, and even internet (which could include social media!) for advertising cannabis companies.  These advertising tactics would be available ONLY if 71.6% of the audience is over 21.  None of the ads could be targeted to any under 21 nor can the users depicted in the ad as well.

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As a PR pro that delves into the creative advertising world, my first answer to these shocking advertising rules is ‘What…The FUCK.’

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71.6 of the audience over 21?  Where the hell in MA can the mad men lock down their targeted audiences for their ad campaign?  Boston?  Somerville?  Brighton/Allston?

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Seriously though guy…this is NOT good at all!  Aside from the tax issue (cannabis WILL be taxed since it’s such a useful commodity!), these ad proposals put a serious damper for the advertising business.  Creative directors, copywriters, art directors, media buyers, and all other creative geniuses won’t be able to launch their huge campaigns if they only cater to areas where 71.6 of the audience is over 21!  Cannabis companies WILL be shipping to Boston in the next few years and the severe lack of advertisements will only put the industry to a halt.

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To better explain this problem, let’s take Don Draper and his creative team from the Mad Men universe as our leading example (since Don is the sexy creative genius of the Mad Men world!).  Supposed Don’s team relocated to Boston and are working with clients within the cannabis industry.  Members of the cannabis companies meet with Don’s team to discuss the new ad campaigns they would be working on.

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Don’s team CAN work on drafting the ad campaign, but they won’t reach the large number of audiences they want to reach since the areas HAVE to be mostly over 21.  Their advertising strategies would only work in very few places in Massachusetts.  If Don’s team doesn’t reach the intended numbers after running the campaigns, then cannabis companies could take their business elsewhere (to a more 4/20-friendly state like California or Maine).  This would mean that most of the work coming from Don, Roger, Joan, Peggy, and Pete won’t be enough to keep themselves afloat.

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Advertising agencies would want to work with the ever-trending cannabis industry to deliver the best advertising campaigns, but they won’t be able to do that if they can’t reach the amount of audiences they need. It will be a complicated challenge for the Boston mad men if the advertising proposals pass.  Cannabis’s image is heavily plagued by the PR nightmare caused by the Reefer Madness scandal and revitalizing PR tactics are our only solution.  To put it in another way, advertising is going to need some serious help from public relations on flourishing cannabis’s reputation before any amazing image can be shown.  The mad men do have the image (the pot leaf!), but that universal image must be repaired before any advertising tactics are set.

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While I didn’t go to Salem State University for advertising, this issue is still important to me as a former PR student.  Cannabis is the hottest new commodity sweeping the nation since being legalized and audiences are looking to get their hands on it any way they can.  With legality issues standing in the way of communicative creativity, business will become sluggish for industries like advertising and marketing.  They are many aspiring individuals in PR, advertising, marketing, journalism, and other areas of communications that see a brighter future through cannabis.  As the writer of entertainment PR stories at MakeSandcastlesNotWar, I take so much joy in informing the audience about the current cannabis trends.  It’s been such an honor to write about an industry that was once so taboo where it was troublesome to even talk about it (let alone smoke it in the open!).

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Recreational cannabis use is one of the hottest social issues here in America.  There’s a brighter future out there for the cannabis industry and we need the most creative mad men out there to showcase that future to ALL audiences.